Teen stabbed to death less than a year after immigrating from India

Yoel Lhanghal killed after brawl breaks out at birthday party in Kiryat Shmona; police say they’ve arrested one suspect; mayor of boy’s hometown calls stabbing ‘act of terror’

Yoel Lhanghal (Courtesy)
Yoel Lhanghal (Courtesy)

A teenager who recently immigrated to Israel from India with his family was stabbed to death after a fight broke out at a party in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on Thursday night.

Yoel Lhanghal, 18, had traveled north from his home in Nof Hagalil to visit a friend and fellow immigrant from India. Lhanghal attended a birthday party in the city, where, according to Meir Paltiel who works with the community of Indian Jewish immigrants to Israel, a fight involving more than 20 teens broke out.

“Yoel was supposed to come home for Shabbat, but in the morning [Friday] at almost 7 a.m. a friend of his called [the family] and told them there had been a fight last night and that Yoel was injured and in hospital,” Paltiel told Ynet.

“The family didn’t even manage to leave for the hospital in Safed before they were told he had died.”

Police arrested a 15-year-old resident of the nearby town of Chatzor Haglilit who they suspect was involved in the incident. Later Friday, they said they had detained another seven youths, aged between 13 and 15. On Saturday, Channel 12 news reported the arrest of three more suspects, including a soldier.

Nof Hagalil Mayor Ronen Plot took to Facebook to lament his town’s loss, describing Lhanghal as a “happy” boy who had expressed his desire to join an IDF combat unit.

“A whole life cut short because of an act of violence, which in my eyes was an act of terror in every way,” Plot said.

A social worker who had worked with Lhanghal through his absorption process and identified by Channel 12 as Shlomo told the network that “he had acclimatized amazingly and was loved by all his friends.”

“He never got into arguments or into fights with anyone. He only went out to a party with a friend and was just injured in this unthinkable way. It’s difficult news for all of us,” Shlomo added.

Lhanghal was a member of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community from a remote area of northeastern India.

The Bnei Menashe are believed to be descended from the biblical tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago. In 2005, then-Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar endorsed the Bnei Menashe’s claim to Jewish ancestry, but required them to convert to Orthodox Judaism.

Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel in recent years, with another 7,000 remaining in India.

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